Our interview is with Alex Joel, former Chief of the Office of Civil Liberties, Privacy, and Transparency at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Alex is now at the American University law school’s Tech, Law, and Security Program. We share stories about the difficulties of government startups and how the ODNI carved out a role for itself in the Intelligence Community (hint: It involved good lawyering). We dive pretty deep on recent FISA court opinions and the changes they forced in FBI procedures. In the course of that discussion, I realize that every “reform” of intelligence dreamed up by Congress in the last decade has turned out to be a self-licking compliance trap, and I take back some of my praise for the DNI’s lawyering.


Continue Reading Episode 283: Is intelligence “reform” a self-licking ice cream cone and compliance trap?

The theme this week is China’s growing confidence in using cyberweapons in new and sophisticated ways, as the US struggles to find an answer to China’s growing ambition to dominate technology. Our interview guest, Chris Bing of Reuters, talks about his deep dive story on Chinese penetration of managed service providers like HP Enterprise – penetration that allowed them access to hundreds of other companies that rely on managed service providers for most of their IT. Most chilling for the customers are strong suggestions that the providers often didn’t provide notice of the intrusions to their customers – or that the providers’ contracts may have prevented their customers from launching quick and thorough investigations when their own security systems detected anomalous behavior originating with the providers. Chris also tells the story of an apparent “Five Eyes” intrusion into Yandex, the big Russian search engine.


Continue Reading Episode 270: China’s cyber offense comes of age

We kick off Episode 267 with Gus Hurwitz reading the runes to see whether a 50-year Chicago winter for antitrust plaintiffs is finally thawing in Silicon Valley. Gus thinks the predictions of global antitrust warming are overhyped. But he recognizes we’re seeing an awful lot of robins on the lawn: The rise of Margrethe Vestager in the EU, the enthusiasm of state AGs for suing Big Tech, and the piling on of Dem presidential candidates and the House of Representatives. Judge Koh’s Qualcomm decision is another straw in the wind, triggering criticism from Gus (“an undue extension of Aspen Skiing”) and me (“the FTC needs a national security minder in privacy and competition law”). Matthew Heiman tells me I’m on the wrong page in suggesting that Silicon Valley’s suppression of conservative speech is a detriment to consumer welfare that the antitrust laws should take into account, even in a Borkian world.


Continue Reading Episode 267: “Call me a fascist again and I’ll get the government to shut you up. Worldwide.”